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Multi-Channel Public Speaking for Professionals

Imagine you are the head of project management at a multinational corporation and you’re preparing to deliver a quarterly performance review that is critical for the upcoming year’s strategy. This presentation involves a complex setup where half of your team will be physically present in the conference room, and the other half will be joining remotely from different parts of the world, including varying time zones. Your goal is to deliver a compelling and inclusive presentation that effectively communicates the quarterly performance and next year’s strategic direction, ensuring that all participants, regardless of their location, feel equally informed, engaged, and valued.

This scenario sets the stage for learning how to master presenting across multiple channels, addressing these challenges head-on, and turning potential issues into opportunities for enhancing communication effectiveness.

Let us explore the unique challenges of presenting across various channels and provide you with strategies to captivate your audience, wherever they may be. Plus, we’ll give you a peek at our newly launched SHRM-approved receritification course that not only deepens these skills but also offers 6 PDCs.


Factors & Challenges to Connect with Audiences

Learning the nuances of multi-channel presentations can be quite a challenge in the increasingly complex workplaces. Whether you’re speaking to colleagues right in front of you, connecting with remote team members across the globe, or addressing a blend of both, knowing how to deliver your message effectively is key.

Various factors pose several challenges that need to be addressed to ensure successful communication:

Audience Engagement

Keeping both in-person and remote participants equally engaged is a significant challenge. Remote attendees might feel disconnected from the group, especially if they perceive that those in the room are having more direct interactions with the presenter.

Technological Reliability

The dependency on technology is high, especially with remote participants. Issues like poor internet connectivity, software glitches, or hardware malfunctions can disrupt the flow of communication, causing delays and potential misunderstandings.

Communication Nuances

Non-verbal cues are vital in conveying your message and gauging audience reactions, which are readily apparent in face-to-face settings. However, these cues can be lost or misinterpreted in online presentations, potentially leading to a lack of clarity.

Time Zone Coordination

Scheduling the presentation to accommodate various time zones can be tricky. You need to find a time that works for everyone, which might mean some participants have to join outside of typical work hours, possibly affecting their focus and participation.

Interactive Elements

The integration of interactive elements for a similar experience for audience members needs to be considered. While face-to-face attendees can easily participate in discussions and activities, remote attendees may struggle with delays or feel hesitant to contribute via digital platforms.

Consistent Experience

The goal of presenting in multiple channels is to make every attendee feel valued for being present. Avoid having a moderator handle questions in the virtual space and the meeting speaker handle questions from live audience members. If virtual attendees have questions, they should be read out loud so the speaker can respond to all participants.

Top 10 Multi-Channel Strategies

three modalities of work represented: onsite, hybrid, and remote

Presenting in multiple channels, such as face-to-face and online, requires presenters to adapt their approach to  engage with their audience in each medium. Following are 10 considerations for presenters when presenting in multiple channels:

Number 1

Understand the platform/medium

Familiarize yourself with the features, capabilities, and limitations of each channel. This includes understanding the technology, audiovisual setup, and interactivity options available to you. Different channels may require different techniques and strategies for effective communication. Following are some examples:

When presenting face-to-face, make use of physical props or demonstrations to enhance your message. In an online presentation, utilize screen-sharing and multimedia elements to convey information effectively.

For a webinar, familiarize yourself with features like muting attendees, spotlighting speakers, and managing breakout rooms. This helps in maintaining control and engagement during the session.

Number 2

Tailor your content for each channel

Adapt your presentation content and delivery style to suit the specific channel. Consider the attention span, visual and auditory cues, and potential distractions associated with each medium. Optimize your visuals, use engaging storytelling techniques, and leverage interactive elements where applicable. Following are some examples:

In a face-to-face presentation, you can use humor and storytelling to captivate the audience’s attention. In an online presentation, incorporate engaging visuals, concise slides, and interactive elements like polls or quizzes to keep participants engaged.

Consider the limitations of bandwidth in online presentations; optimize media files to ensure they load quickly and don’t interrupt the flow of your presentation.

Number 3

Engage with your audience

In face-to-face presentations, you can establish a direct and immediate connection with your audience through eye contact, body language, and physical presence. In online presentations, strive to maintain audience engagement by using virtual engagement tools, encouraging interaction through chat features or polls, and addressing individuals by name. Following are some examples:

In hybrid presentations (some online and some face-to-face audience members), make a conscious effort to engage with remote participants. Directly address them, encourage questions or comments through chat features, and involve them in interactive activities. This helps bridge the gap between the physical and virtual audience.

During a face-to-face presentation, make eye contact with individual audience members, move around the stage, and encourage participation through open-ended questions.

In an online presentation, specifically address remote participants by their names, ask for their opinions through chat, use virtual applause or emojis to create a sense of interaction, and include interactive activities like virtual breakout rooms or collaborative document editing.

Use real-time feedback tools like live polls or Q&A sessions in online presentations to make them more interactive. For hybrid settings, ensure that remote participants have equal opportunities to contribute, possibly by dedicating specific times to address their contributions.

Number 4

Be aware of non-verbal communication

Non-verbal cues play a crucial role in communication. In face-to-face presentations, pay attention to your posture, gestures, facial expressions, and vocal tone. Following are some examples:

In online presentations, ensure your camera angle, lighting, and background are professional and conducive to effective communication.

In a face-to-face presentation, use appropriate hand gestures, maintain an open and confident posture, and vary your vocal tone to convey enthusiasm or emphasize key points. In an online presentation, ensure good lighting, position yourself comfortably in the camera frame, and use facial expressions and voice modulation effectively.

In online presentations, your head and shoulders are usually the most visible parts, so practice expressive facial gestures and head movements to add more personality and emphasis to your words.

Number 5

Test your technology and equipment

Prior to the presentation, thoroughly test your equipment, internet connection, and any audiovisual tools you will be using. Familiarize yourself with the platform’s functionalities and have a backup plan in case of technical issues. This helps ensure a smooth and uninterrupted presentation experience. Following are some examples:

Before a face-to-face presentation, test the projector, sound system, and any other audiovisual equipment you will be using. In an online presentation, check your internet connection, test the microphone and camera, and become familiar with the virtual platform’s features.

Always have a direct line to a tech support team or a colleague who can assist quickly during a live session in case of unexpected issues, enhancing your confidence and reducing downtime.

Number 6

Have a backup plan

Technology can be unpredictable, and technical issues can occur during presentations. To mitigate potential disruptions, it’s crucial to have a backup plan in place. By preparing for the worst and having a backup plan, you can minimize the impact of technology failures and ensure a more seamless presentation experience. Being proactive and ready for any contingencies demonstrates professionalism and adaptability, enabling you to handle unexpected situations effectively. Following are some examples:

Have a spare laptop, projector, or any other essential equipment readily available as a backup in case the primary technology fails. Ensure that the backup equipment is properly tested and prepared before the presentation.

Familiarize yourself with the backup equipment or alternative methods in advance. Rehearse using the backup plan to ensure a smooth transition if the need arises. Being prepared will help you stay calm and confident in case of technical difficulties.

If your presentation relies heavily on internet connectivity or specific software, have an offline version readily available. This could include saving your slides as a PDF or having handouts that participants can refer to in case the online tools or connection become unreliable.

Save your presentation files in multiple locations, such as a USB drive, cloud storage, and local storage. This redundancy helps ensure that you can access your files even if one storage method fails.

For presentations critical to business processes or large audiences, consider having a technical rehearsal with your backup equipment to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Number 7

Adapt to the format

Face-to-face presentations typically allow for more spontaneous interaction and immediate feedback. Online presentations may require you to be more structured and concise. Adapt your presentation style, pacing, and content delivery to suit the format while maintaining clarity and impact. Following are some examples:

In a face-to-face presentation, you might allow more time for audience questions and spontaneous discussions. In an online presentation, structure your content in shorter segments, provide clear transitions, and utilize visuals or videos to maintain engagement.

When transitioning between face-to-face and online formats within the same presentation, announce and guide the shift to help your audience stay engaged and prepared for the change in interaction style.

Number 8

Be mindful of time zones and scheduling

When presenting to a global audience, consider time zone differences and schedule your presentation at a time that accommodates the majority of participants. Clearly communicate the timing and provide options for accessing recorded sessions if possible. Following are some examples:

If presenting to a global audience, choose a time that accommodates different time zones and communicates the time clearly in multiple time zones. Provide access to recorded sessions for those unable to attend live.

Utilize scheduling tools that automatically detect and show the local time for participants when they are registering for your presentation. This reduces confusion and increases participation.

Number 9

Practice and prepare

Just like any presentation, practice and preparation are key to success. Rehearse your presentation in each channel to become comfortable with the format and optimize your delivery. Pay attention to the nuances and adjust accordingly. Following are some examples:

Practice your face-to-face presentation by rehearsing your delivery, timing, and interaction with the audience. In an online presentation, practice screen-sharing, managing slides, and using virtual engagement tools to ensure a smooth and professional presentation.

For online presentations, record your practice sessions and review them to assess your voice clarity, pace, and use of technology. Adjust based on self-review or feedback from peers.

Number 10

Seek feedback and learn from each experience

Solicit feedback from participants and evaluate your own performance in each channel. Learn from each presentation, identify areas for improvement, and continuously refine your skills in both face-to-face and online presentation settings. Following are some examples:

After each face-to-face presentation, ask for feedback from attendees or colleagues to identify areas for improvement. Similarly, gather feedback from online participants through surveys or evaluations to refine your online presentation skills.

Implement a structured feedback process using digital forms that participants can fill out anonymously. This can provide more candid responses and valuable insights for improvement.

Final Thoughts

remote workers on a video conference with on-site employees

Reflecting back on our scenario where you faced the daunting task of presenting to a diverse and dispersed team, we see how critical it is to effectively manage the intricacies of multi-channel presentations.  As you move forward, remember that the key to success in multi-channel presentations lies in your ability to adapt and respond to the dynamics of each medium. Whether dealing with time zone differences, technological disruptions, or varying levels of participant engagement, your preparedness and adaptability will ensure that your message resonates with every member of your audience.

Embrace what you learn from each presentation, refine your approach, and continue to develop your skills. By doing so, you will not only meet but exceed the expectations of your diverse audience, ensuring your message is impactful and inclusive, no matter the setting.

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Level up the skills to make your presentations resonate with every member of your audience, earning you 6 SHRM Recertification PDCs in the process. Learn to deliver presentations that not only inform but truly inspire. Whether you’re addressing a room full of people or connecting through screens, your ability to adapt and engage is what will set you apart.